HSBC Publishes Global Expat Survey

By Editorial 04 November, 2013

HSBC has published what it describes as its "biggest and most insightful survey" of expats around the world, bringing together global data from 7,004 respondents on aspects of life abroad ranging from earning hotspots through to quality of life, and presenting country reports for locations that include Australia, Hong Kong, and the UK.

The study, entitled Expat Explorer 2013, is HSBC's sixth annual survey, and includes an interactive tool that allows cross-country comparisons of quantitative data relating to economics, the expat experience, and raising children abroad.

According to the study's league tables, Thailand is the top country for expat experience, with Australia and Spain both also in the top ten. Switzerland tops the economic league table, followed by China, with Australia in 17th place and Hong Kong in 19th. Australia is also among the top ten locations for raising expat children, with the list topped by Germany and Singapore, and with Hong Kong at 11th and the UK at 19th.

The report also found that expats in the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and in the "frontier" economies of Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico have a confident outlook as regards the economy, and that the best-paid expats are in Asia. Asian destinations are also most likely to offer improved quality of life and lower costs of living, while expats in Europe face increasing expenses and higher taxation.

Findings relating to Britain show that the country has the lowest number of expats residing in a European country who are looking to leave (just 7 percent), and that austerity measures have had little impact on expat retirement plans. Further, expats in the UK are among those most likely to socialize with locals, and 24 percent say that education costs are lower than at home. However, only 13 percent believe that the UK is becoming a better place for expats to live in (compared to 32 percent elsewhere in the world), while 45 percent believe that the country is getting worse (compared with a global expat of average of 30 percent). The study also highlights that there is more optimism among younger expats in the UK who are working in finance and technology in London.

As for Australia, 60 percent of expats in the country say that their quality of life has improved on since arriving, with positive views about the climate and "friendly locals." Forty-eight percent of expats in Australia feel they are integrating well into the country (against a global average of 34 percent), and 81 percent of respondents said they had a strong connection to the country. Australia is particularly attractive to retirees, although for many this means increased healthcare costs. Eight-six percent of expats in Australia hold their retirement provisions in the country.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, was praised by respondents for its childcare, with 54 percent judging that schools are better in the territory than in their home countries and 71 percent believing that Hong Kong is safer for children. Hong Kong is also associated with lower taxes for 61 percent of respondents (against a global average of 27 percent) and many reported higher salaries (50 percent against a global average of 41 percent) and increased personal security (60 percent compared to a global average of 40 percent).

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